D90’s Roosevelt Middle School Officially Certified as a National Wildlife Foundation Habitat Garden

Summer School gardening class posing behind the new NWF certification sign

Congratulations to all the D90 students – 7th grade science students and the 2021 summer school gardening class – who helped weed, dig, put dozens of plants in the ground, and water them all through the last few weeks of a very hot and dry spring. After a year of remote/hybrid learning and pandemic-related challenges, it has been restorative in so many ways to come together outside and in contact with things that grow in the earth as they were meant to. Thank you also to the Roosevelt Green 4 Good and PTO groups for helping to finance the plant acquisition that has helped expand the garden’s layout and composition.

Where each of these students stands we hope, over the next few seasons, to see robust growth of Golden Alexander, Blue and White False Indigo, and Ohio Spiderwort make this corner a particularly welcoming spot for spring pollinators.

As you can see, established plants from an older section of the garden are already in use. A Monarch (Danaus plexippus) feeding on a tall stalk of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). An example of coevolution, the intimate and exclusive relationship between these two organisms has developed over long time scales and is therefore not easily disrupted.

It takes a good eye to spot many well-camouflaged insects. Unlike the Monarch butterfly feasting on its larval host plant, the creature below, most likely a Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis), is a non-native predator in Illinois, introduced on the East Coast in the late nineteenth-century. It is now common throughout the area, and is a case of the inescapable challenges of managing a native plant community in the presence of a number of invasive species with indeterminate effects on local ecosystems.

While gardens provide essential lessons in the ways all living things hang together in nature, they are inspiring in many other essential ways. Student watercolor paintings inspired by the Roosevelt garden, summer 2021.

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